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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 07/11/2023

MacGregor's Bar in Inverness has experienced a major boost to visitor numbers this year, thanks to its online social media following.

The venue has built up a strong international following on social media, ever since its owners began live streaming traditional music sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

As a result, the bar has seen a huge rise in visitors this year, especially those travelling from North America. The owners estimate that 80% of their visitors this summer have been from North America, which further demonstrate the growth opportunities of this market for Scotland.

MacGregor’s Bar, which was named Best Bar or Pub at the Scottish Thistle Awards National Final for 2022/23, celebrates the best in Scottish food, drink, music and culture.

Owners Bruce MacGregor and Jo De Sylva started the online ‘Live at 5’ show from the bar in 2020. It continues to attract a worldwide audience and has also led to a successful line of merchandise.

Every Friday at 5pm, the show is broadcast from the bar to an audience of between 3,000 to 6,000 viewers, streaming in from South Africa, Australia, France, New Zealand, the US and Canada. 

Couple eating at MacGregor's Bar in Inverness

We started our ‘Live at 5’ music sessions during lockdown. We had just been named Best Music Bar in Scotland and then two months later we went into a national lockdown. They have kept going ever since – very ad hoc and interactive – and with a huge local and international following.

It really is quite incredible how popular the show has become. Music is a very important part of it, but our customers are also interested in the history and culture of Scotland. We have a cocktail menu with drinks named after and dedicated to famous Scots. It’s the history, culture and music – all of it – that our customers want to be a part of.

Bruce Macgregor and Jo De Sylva, Owners of MacGregor's Bar

The interest in MacGregor’s Bar from international visitors aligns with the latest statistics that show visits to Scotland from overseas remain strong.

The International Passenger Survey* figures show that Scotland was a top choice for international visitors between January and June this year.

A total of 572,000 international visits was made to Scotland during the first quarter of the year, an increase of 29% on the same period in 2019.

Between April and June 2023 there was a total of 1,163,000 visits to Scotland from international visitors, an increase of 50% on the same period in 2022, and a rise of more than a quarter (27%) on quarter two in 2019.

Read the full research on 

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